Akron: Man withdraws guilty plea in bridge bomb case

5:39 PM, Nov 21, 2012   |    comments
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AKRON -- One of the men accused in the plot to bomb a Brecksville bridge earlier this year has withdrawn his guilty plea.

As a result, Anthony Hayne, 35, will be back in court on Nov. 30 for the government to be able to respond to the plea change.

Hayne, who was scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday morning, filed the request to change his plea late Tuesday night.

The plea change request is conditional on whether Hayne gets a more lenient sentence than his co-defendants.

"24 hours from yesterday until today is probably not enough time to compare what happened yesterday to what should happen to Mr. Hayne," said his attorney Michael O'Shea.

O'Shea says Hayne's plea deal in return for cooperation could still mean a longer sentence than the eight-to-11-year terms handed down Tuesday to three co-defendants. 

All three pleaded guilty after Hayne, but without plea deals promising cooperation. Those three were collectively sentenced Tuesday to nearly 30 years behind bars.

Doug Wright, 27, the alleged ringleader, was given 138 months, or more than 11 years in prison, for his role in a failed plan to blow up the Route 82 bridge in April.

Brandon Baxter, 20, was sentenced to 117 months, nearly 10 years, for his role.

Connor Stevens, 20, was sentenced to 97 months, about 8 years, in prison. All three defendants will undergo substance abuse treatment and face lifetime supervision upon release.

"I think if the sentences of the three defendants who got sentenced yesterday stand on appeal, my client's [Hayne's] should be significantly less than theirs in light of his significant cooperation," said O'Shea.

Each sentence was more than the minimum required, but far less than the government recommended for each defendant.

Judge David Dowd stuck to the opinion he shared last week to sentence the group as terrorists, making them subject to harsher sentences.

Supporters of each defendant discussed the government's role in the case using an undercover FBI informant to sell fake explosives to the group. Witnesses referenced the defense's original position that this case involved entrapment.

A fifth suspect, Joshua Stafford, is undergoing psychiatric evaluation.

WKYC-TV/Associated Press

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